xxvi (’20)

she’s arrived bent at this snapshot of her golden hour
her flame still whispering to the loves she flowers
captured for a moment as only what she represents
not the meanings she carries gold in heart
another grandmother from the fringes
how her eyes blaze with sunflower presence
blonde hair long retreated for reconsideration
she’s licked her Bible clean from edge to cover
her flame whispers on the beagle breeze
her leaf has coined light years
her life still gushes bringing water
unknown to a world that does not know her

A. H (3rd November 2020)

I wrote this in a workshop. We picked a colour and worked on variations of it and words we might link to it. I chose yellow and late on I added another, flame. That reminds me of the spirit and an exercise we once did in a counselling lecture of walking around holding a candle before us and how hard it was to protect it from going out. The exercises with colour really set me off. Then we all picked a number at random which chose a black and white photo we had to bring to life with those colours. My photo was an old person, probably in the Levant, with a headscarf, bent over and walking across the light at the end of an alleyway. I joked a comparison with that Bond logo in a tunnel like view. It was only later it was pointed out to me that I had mistaken an old man for an old woman, I had not looked hard enough, possibly the scarf had given me the idea and possibly I had moved too quickly with a half formed idea that the whole thing prompted me to think further on. So, I have not reproduced the photo here – and I haven’t managed to draw anything close enough to add it. I may be a bit unsure of the line on her blonde hair in direct link to the photo (and obviously more so for a man) and also I have also gone with my original ‘Bible’ not ‘good book’ which I considered but as which book may be problematic in direct link to the photo . Clearly I have had something in mind not quite in the photo, but maybe not altogether clear to me — but realise now I had put some of these phrases together before the poem and before I ever saw the picture then constructed soemthing promted by it, the method a bit of a mish mash that may have contradictions. Earlier in the meeting we had read Louise Glück’s poem All Hallows, https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/49605/all-hallows, which had a mythical wifely figure maybe that is part of it. I think in a way I was sad at the anonymity of the picture, yet that totally comes from my western eyes and this person was grounded in their world. It may be I am sad for my own lack of that grounding, which I hope I may work on. I suppose it is a riposte to a very cursory view of a subject, though it remains a cursory view not least with my gender mistake, though maybe that in itself allows an exploration I needed of age and things that matter.

I’ve chosen this very un-Levantine photo due to the yellow and also how the camera hides the face. The subject’s face in the photo I responded to was also invisible in profile from medium distance and due to their scarf.

Photo by Nick Bondarev on Pexels.com

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